Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Christmas

News about the Council Tax 3

At the Council meeting on Tuesday, the provisional Council budget and Council Tax level was announced for 2007/08.

The Council Tax has been provisionally set so that it will rise no higher than 3.8% and could well be lower by the time it is confirmed in March.

While this increase is below inflation as promised, I would have liked it to be lower. However, this is not possible due to the poor funding grant by the Labour Government to Barnet and Gordon Brown's NHS funding crises. As a result of the underfunding in the NHS. Barnet is having to provide extra services and so 1.61% of the council tax increase will be to provide health services that the NHS should be providing. Without this amount in the budget the tax increase would be around 2.25%.

This Council Tax increase is likely to be one of the lowest in the country. This is a result of the efficiency's the Council is making and even some cuts where required.

What I found interesting that both Labour and the Lib Dems did not criticise the low increase in Council Tax. Instead they both said we should be providing more services which would therefore make the Council Tax increase much higher.

This therefore shows that the Conservative Council is delivering high quality services which people want at the lowest possible level of tax.

News about the Council Tax 2 - The NHS Crises

As I explained in my previous update the key reason that Council Tax will be rising in Barnet and across London and the whole country is because of the lack of Government funding for local authority services.

However, even worse now is that Brown has also started to underfund the NHS, so that many of the services at Barnet General, Royal Free and Edgware Community Centre are under threat. Due to the underfunding for our local hospitals and less staff, the hospitals are struggling to provide all the services they require.

As a result of Labour's mismanagement led by Gordon Brown, these services are having to be picked up by local councils across the country including Barnet. Therefore, the NHS Funding crisis means in Barnet an extra £2.2m of costs has to come out of the local council budget.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

News about the Council Tax 1

At last nights Council Meeting the Leader announced the headline figures for the 2007/8 budget and Council Tax ahead of it being finalised at the Council Meeting in March.

As this is an important and complex subject I thought it would be useful to outline the key information to make it understand for you to understand.

The first key issue was that of the capital grant that Barnet Council will be receiving from the Government.

The Government will be giving a 2% increase in the grant it gives to Barnet Council in 2007/8. This is the lowest grant in the country for the second year running, so that the Labour Government, has continued to ensure that they are underfunding the services provided in Barnet.

You might wonder why as a Conservative that believes in low levels of public spending and taxation levels I am complaining that the Government is spending a lack of money on Barnet. However, the reason for this is quite clear.

Since the Labour Government was elected they have continually, led by Gordon Brown, set more and more requirements and targets which they have forced Councils to carry out. As a result over 75% of local council services are forced on Councils by central Government. However, while each year, requiring Councils to carry out more and more work, the Labour Government has not increased the funding required to carry out these services at the same rates.

The Government has hit the Borough of Barnet particularly hard. While, each Council is required to carry out the same services, not each Council receives the same rate of increased spending. Barnet has been hit with just a 2% this year. so that for two years running we have received the lowest grant increase in the country.

The 2% increase in Barnet compares to an average of
3.2% for outer London Councils
3.4% for London as a whole
3.8% for England as a whole

Therefore, the Government is penalsing the residents of Barnet to help other boroughs particularly in the north of England.

I will provide more information on the budget tomorrow.

Cleaner Streets for Barnet

I am pleased to let you know that Barnet Council has announced new improvements to the street cleaning service for Barnet and especially town centres such as Edgware.

At last nights Council meeting I asked Matthew Offord, the Lead Member for Environment a question about what new improvements were being made to the street cleaning service.

I was told by Matthew Offord that the improvements will include a specific cleaning service around 20 town centres in the borough including Edgware. The cleaning staff will also have new uniforms to make them more recognisable so that members of the public know who to approach.

I am glad that a new street cleaning service is being introdued in the Borough. T hough standards are already very high, there is always more to be done. I look forward to a very real difference being made on the streets of both Edgware and Barnet as a whole.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Langdon Community

I was pleased to attend a function organised by Langdon Community on Sunday. Details of the charity can be found at

Langdon Community is a charity that provides support for young Jewish adults with learning difficulties/disabilities to enable them to determine and maintain a lifestyle of their own choosing which affords dignity, fulfilment and individual status and maximises their potential for independence in the wider community. The Community seeks to empower and enable people to enjoy lifestyles, which are age, culture and needs appropriate.

The Community had previously been based in Manchester. However, in recognition that many of the people they support come from families in London, Langdon have now opened their first residential home in Edgware. I was therefore pleased to attend this ceremony which saw their patron the Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks officially open the new home.

This was actually the first time I had heard of this charity, but I believe this is an excellent charity which helps to provide support to those in need so that they are able to then support themselves and take part in everyday society as much as they wish.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Edgware Councillors Surgery

I will be at Edgware Libary this evening between 5:30pm and 6:30pm for the monthly surgery. Please come along if you have any queries.

Please note that there will be no surgery in December and so the next one following today will be in January.

If you have any queries please email me at or call me on 020 8958 0640.

Update on Science in Schools Review

Last week at the Education Scrutiny Committee, I reported on teh work that I have been working on as part of the working group looking at science in Barnet's schools. The work we have done shows that while we should remain vigilant about the state of science in our schools, we should not be as concerned as the national media reports suggest. The average results for Barnet show an increase between 2001 and 2006 which are better than the national average and the average for similar local areas.

At Key Stage 2 attainment is stable for both boys and girls. Those achieving level 5 has risen by about 10% which is above the national average and the same as our statistical neighbours.

At Key Stage 3 attainment has improved for both boys and girls by13% at level 6 and 9% and level 5. We are meeting the nationally imposed target of 79% reaching level 5 in 2006 and are above the national average and those of similar local authorities.

At GCSE and A Level there has been an overall increase in entries particularly for the individual sciences as opposed to a broader curriculum. While results have increased in line with the national average.

Over the remainder of the review we will therefore examine the impact of the new GCSE curriculum that has been introduced nationally for those doing GCSE science in year 10 this year. This is a more practical curriculum which is aimed to make science more interesting to pupils in the 21st century and so encourage further uptake at A-Level and beyond.

As a committee we have decided to therefore spend the majority of our time looking at how this new curriculum is bedding down in our schools. We will look at how well teachers, with the support of the local authority have the capability to teach this new style and increasingly practical and computer based curriculum. Look at the views of pupils in the current year 10 and compare their view of the curriculum to older years. Look at examples of best practice and areas which can be improved.

Monday, November 13, 2006

In Rememberance

Yesterday I was proud to represent the people of Edgware, together with my colleagues Cllr Helena Hart, Cllr Hugh Rayner and Cllr Brian Gordon, at 2 rememberance services. Firstly, I attended the Royal British Legion service at the memorial on Edgware High Street. This was followed by the Edgware Association of Ex Jewish Service Men and Woman service at Edgware United Synagogue.

At this time it is particularly important to remember the important work that are armed services have done in the past and currently do. I was therefore upset to read that this year in London the poppy appeal is expected to collect £1 million less than in the past due to a shortage of collectors. I therefore encourage you to visit the Royal British Legion website to make a donation on-line.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Whos having to pay for the London 2012 Olympics

Since the campaign began for London to host the olympics in 2012, I have been and continue to be a supporter of London hositing the olympics, as I believe this will bring much enjoyment and economic benefit to the country and particularly East London.

However, I am starting to get worried that the Government seems to be failing to correctly manage this properly. Firslty, costs seemed to keep on rising and this week have heard that the Government mistakenly thought they didn't need to include VAT on the building costs, which they now admit will need to be paid.

This keeps on resulting in higher costs, which the Government expects the whole of London to pay for (as opposed to tax payers in the rest of the country.) Therefore the taxpayers of Barnet are increasingly expected to pay more for the Olympics while they will gain no more benefit than the people of Hertfordshire or anywhere else in the country.

I generally want these Olympics to be a success, but this should not be at the expence of the resients of Barnet. So let's make sure this is managed properly and does not make London the laughing stock of the world.

Christmas Lights in Edgware

I am pleased to let you know that the Council's Christmas lights will soon be going on in Edgware.

While, I personally do not celebrate Christmas, although I do enjoy this time of year (even if if it seems to get earlier every year - is that to cheesy?) where everyone just seems to get in to a better mood, as people start to celebrate however they choose.

I hope the Council lights that are going up in Edgware and in all town centres in Barnet, will help to cheer you up this winter.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Is secular Britain trying to abolish religion?

Is secular Britain trying to abolish religion?

This may sound a sharp question but when you consider the recent news stories over the last few weeks is this really so.

First we had the question raised by Jack Straw over whether Moslem women should be allowed to wear the niqab (full veil) and then even raising the possibility that the hijab (partial veil) should not be worn either. Next came the news that a British Airways air stewardess was banned from wearing a cross on her necklace. Then there was the further news that there is a growing political consensus that religious-based state schools should ensure that 25% of their student body should include pupils that are not of the schools dominant religion. I therefore welcome the announcement yesterday by the Government that they won't be making this requirement compulsory on schools. Although, I don't believe the threat has gone away.

What each of these three stories highlight is that there is a growing view in Britain that individuals should not be able to identify themselves as different from the rest of society based on their religion. I would argue though that many religious actions are not there to make that person seem better than others, rather religious actions, religious determined dress and religious-based schools are there to help that person get closer to what they feel there ultimate purpose is. For example as an orthodox Jew I wear a kapel (skullcap) as a head covering to make me feel closer to G-d.

However, now in Britain there is a growing view that if you do not conform to the Western customs you are an outsider, who should not be tolerated as you are trying to be different from the norm. While, I believe that is not the correct way for society to treat minority groups in this country, I am also not suggesting that the minority-religious groups should exclude themselves from the rest of society, ignoring and often looking down on others. The Hindu, Jewish and Sikh communities are positive illustrations of how religious communities can remain as strong communities while at the same time becoming successful members of the wider community.

Especially in the Jewish community this can be put down to the successful Jewish schools that attract high numbers of Jewish pupils and are often over subscribed. So I ask why are schools such as these being threatened with reform so that they will have to accept 25% of their intake from children who are not Jewish.

There is a point of view that with the increasing marginalisation of some groups in society and the growing threat of terrorism, that there is a need to ensure that children are not secluded from other communities so that children can learn to accept and live with people that are different to themselves. While this obviously does have some positive benefits, this is not the only way to create a tolerant society. Children can be taught to be respectful of everyone in society while being taught in one-religion based schools. What matters for groups in society to be respectful of others is that they have a genuine understanding of others and are tolerant of all groups and individuals.

Children can learn this in mixed schools but they can also develop this method of understanding in single-religion schools. Like many parents want their children to be taught in single-sex schools, many parents want their children to go to a single-faith school. This can be for a number of reasons including that they want their children to develop a strong foundation in their own faith and history, while being able to share the same religious values with the children around them. Children are therefore able to gain confidence in their own beliefs and practices, so that they are then better equipped to face the world with tolerance and respect for others.

I am proud to be a former student at two Jewish schools, Rosh Pinah Primary School and JFS Secondary School. Through my time at these schools (including at JFS which has existed in London for more than 270 years) I received an education that provided me with a strong Jewish ethos but also to value and support everyone in society, so that I hope I am now someone that is proud to help all individuals where ever they come from. However, I also want to protect the rights of religious groups to express their religion as they wish. Therefore I will continue to campaign with and support religious groups that want to wear their religious attire and send their children to single faith schools.


Last night I was at the Edgware, Mill Hill and Burnt Oak Forum.

One of the questions which was raised by a member of the public was how you can dispose of shredded paper in the recycling bin. With the threat of ID fraud we are increasingly being encouraged to shred our documents.

Therefore I am pleased that as a Council we do cater for recycling shredded paper. If you wish to dispose of shredded paper, you should place it in a tied plastic bag, clearly marked that it contains shredded paper. The recycling collectors will then take the bag and empty it at the recycling site, so that it does not make a mess in peoples gardens and along roads.

Barnet FC

I was at the monthly Planning and Environment Committee on Wednesday night. One of the items that we had to decide upon to give planning permission to was whether Barnet Football club should be allowed to improve their ground maintenance to make it safer and more secure for their supporters.

I am pleased to say that we were able as a Committee to grant planning permission to the club for this work.

I believe Barnet FC are an asset to the borough of which we should be proud.

Therefore, we need to help them maintain a stadium for the future that is suitable for their needs. Obviously, while maintaining their needs this should not negatively impact on local residents and so I believe it is very important that they also carefully follow the proper procedure for gaining planning permission before they carry out any work.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The new Edgware Eruv

After many months of waiting I am pleased to hear that Edgware’s eruv with be live from tomorrow evening. I would like to congratulate everyone who has worked hard to achieve this. I would also like to thank the Councillors on Barnet Council who before I was elected, gave permission for the required infrastructure to be put in place.

For those of you that are not aware an eruv allows orthodox Jews to carry and to move push chairs outside on Shabbat (Sabbath day) which otherwise is not allowed. An area becomes included within an eruv when it is surrounded by a boundary. This can include existing walls and natural boundaries but also includes some poles and wires.

More information can be found out about the Edgware Eruv at

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Barnet's First Class Schools

This evening I attended the Education Scrutiny Committee. At this session of the Committee we looked at the outcome of a report of OFSTED inspections across Barnet and in particular at four schools in the Barnet. This highlighted to me the excellent schools we have in Barnet and the hard work and effort that our teachers and school staff put in to making sure that children educated in Barnet can have the best start in life.

This adds to the recently published OFSTED Joint Area Review of Barnet’s Children’s Services. The report which was published on 10 October announced that - in Barnet’s 4 nursery schools, 89 primary schools, 19 secondary schools, 4 special schools and 3 pupil referral units – educational standards are above the national average and outcomes for most children are rated as good. This has been because of the combined work of the staff in our “local schools and services that have helped children to enjoy their educational and recreational activities.” “The Council has also helped by taking a strong lead in bringing about improvements in the performance of its schools over a short period of time.”

The reports tonight also highlighted that of the Barnet schools inspected by OFSTED in the 2005/06 academic year, 89% of schools in Barnet were rated as outstanding or good. This compares to the national average of 57%.

I would particularly like to congratulate the two schools we heard to from tonight, Colindale Primary School and St Catherine’s Roman Catholic School who were able to highlight the excellent work that our schools do in partnership with Barnet Council.

While attendance in primary schools needs to be improved in Barnet, strategies have already started to work to improve this including the idea of Barnet Bears who can't bear to miss school (hence the picture). There are also many interesting teaching techniques which the schools are using to make education fun and helping the pupils to learn.

What did strike me is that one of Barnet’s outstanding schools is The Annunciation Roman Catholic Infant School in Burnt Oak. This Roman Catholic school has a requirement that all its pupils are catholic. At this time when there appears to be a growing view that this should not happen but that religious-based schools should be required to accept a proportion of pupils I believe that this shows that religious-based schools are successful for a reason. Schools are helped to be successful when all pupils have a common and shared ethos. Just like parents can choose to send their children to single sex schools I believe parents should be allowed to choose to send their children to single religious-based schools, which are shown to be proven to help the children taught there.

I am therefore pleased to have spent an evening hearing about the success of education in Barnet.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Edgware, Mill Hill and Burnt Oak Forum

You can have your say on what Barnet Council is doing in your area be it Edgware, Mill Hill or Burnt Oak next week at the Residents Forum. This will be at 6:30pm on Thursday 26 October.

The Residents Forum will be at The Memorial House, Watling Community Centre, 145 Orange Hill Road, Edgware, HA8 8EL

If you want a subject to be discussed please contact Jonathan Regal on 020 8359 2012.

I hope to see you there.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Robert Rams

My colleague Cllr Robert Rams this week gave a link to my website. You can access his blog on the left had column.

Future of Health Care in Barnet

For too long the health service in this country has struggled from one crisis to the next as different political parties have continually reversed previous ideas about how best to run the NHS. In Barnet this has led to many difficulties with the quality of health services. This includes the closing of Edgware Hospital, for which I remember the controversy while I was at school. While Labour were unable to keep Edgware Hospital open I agree they should be given credit for the Community Hospital which is on the current site. However, as many of you will agree with this does need expanding given the size of the current local population, which is continuing to grow.

That is why I am pleased that the leaders of the local political parties in the Council and MPs have come together to issue a joint statement (below) calling for improved health facilities (and not closures) in Barnet. This is so that the Primary Care Trust, which is responsible for delivering health care agrees a future programme that is best for Barnet and its residents.

From tomorrow you can give your views at

Joint Statement on Barnet, Enfield and Haringey NHS Clinical Strategy

We thought it would be timely if we jointly set out a statement about the development of the above strategy from a Barnet perspective. Starting first with context about Barnet

• Barnet is the 2nd largest borough in London whose population mainly uses the acute hospitals of Barnet, the Royal Free and to a lesser extent Northwick Park and Chase Farm.
• Barnet is the fastest growing London Borough outside of the Thames Gateway with an expected increase in its population of about 40,000 in the next 10 years, especially along the A5 corridor, the furthest part of the borough from Chase Farm.
• The local NHS has been bedevilled with mixed performance ratings.
• This has been particularly the case for our main Acute Trust of Barnet and Chase Farm Hospital which was formed by a merger 5 years ago. The merger took place despite Barnet Hospital’s main clinical links, at the time, being with the Royal Free and not with Chase Farm in Enfield.
• There is one A/E department in the borough at Barnet Hospital. Barnet residents also extensively use the Royal Free A/E department. Additionally there are two very popular Walk In Centres at two community hospitals.
• One of these community hospitals, Edgware Community Hospital, was highlighted by the Department of Health in July as an example of a 21st Century style community hospital. The other, Finchley Memorial Hospital, is by contrast in a poorer condition, but is well used by the community.
• Barnet Council has a programme of joint working with Barnet PCT, which has been held back this year by top slices of the PCT’s budget allocation.

We understand the issues that are driving changes in acute services. These have been well articulated by leading commentators such as the Chair of the BMA. We support increasing provision of care nearer people’s homes and much more in partnership with social care. Such transfers of services from hospitals with costs falling on social care should be partnered with the transfer of resources. This is not a matter for London NHS alone.

However, it does appear from a purely Barnet perspective that many of the problems in outer north London which the clinical strategy is trying to resolve have arisen because of the Barnet and Chase Farm merger.

The clinical strategy sets out a number of scenarios, which we understand are now being short listed to 4 or 5 options for more detailed analysis before consultation. A few of the scenarios are clearly not feasible, such as turning North Middlesex into a community hospital or for that matter ceasing emergency services at Barnet Hospital. This would not be acceptable to Barnet. Decisions on provision must be made solely on clinical, access and financial grounds, based on the evidence. Barnet Hospital has recently benefited from a major rebuilding programme and these brand new buildings must be used by the NHS for planned and emergency treatment. Good access to NHS services for Barnet residents is of vital importance. Barnet residents’ use of local hospitals follows public transport and road links. Chase Farm is poorly accessed from most of the borough.

We support a change in provision in Barnet, as the current pattern of services will not continue to meet the needs of our residents. We also support increasing choice for users of NHS services. However, we wish the change process to be managed constructively with local representatives, as otherwise there is a risk that the level of opposition being generated will freeze decision making and result in a continuance of the status quo. This will not serve us well in the medium to long term. For these reasons we suggest an approach which demonstrates the following:

• Ensuring there is the necessary investment at Barnet Hospital to meet any increased activity due to changes in Enfield
• Redeveloping Finchley Memorial Hospital, including the Marie Foster Centre, as a modern 21st Century community hospital to help support the changes and bring care nearer to people’s homes. London NHS will be receiving a Strategic Outline Case for its redevelopment this December
• Supporting the development of improved community and primary care services in Barnet, including further developments at Edgware Community Hospital.
• Recognising the impact on health services infrastructure of the growth in Barnet’s population, including the changing demographic profile and fully resourcing this as it occurs.
• Enabling appropriate transfers of resources into social care where activity is being transferred out of hospitals and the costs are falling onto Council budgets
• Recognising the principle of Patient Choice as the driver of changes in the system.
• Reinstating and, in addition, developing stronger clinical links between Barnet Hospital, local community services and the Royal Free Hospital.

Additionally we could well envisage, that the possible changes in Enfield could in due course lead to the need for acute trust reconfiguration with the creation of a Trust encompassing Barnet Hospital and the Royal Free. This would create a Trust that more closely reflects the actual patient journeys of Barnet residents and could more effectively focus on Barnet’s needs. The London Borough of Barnet has the largest number of patients using the Royal Free of any London borough. However, organisational reconfiguration must be secondary to getting services in the right shape to serve our community.

Cllr Mike Freer, Leader of Barnet Council

Cllr Helena Hart, Cabinet Member for Public Health

Cllr Brian Coleman, London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden

Cllr Alison Moore, Leader of the Labour Group, Barnet Council

Cllr Monroe Palmer, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Barnet Council

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Unlike the Labour MP I support the new Edgware Academy

For those of you that do not know two years ago Edgare School at Spur Road became the London Academy, free of control from the Barnet Local Education Authority and free to make its own decisions on how it is run. This September its new gleaming school building opened for pupils which is officially being opened by David Cameron in a couple of weeks time.

For some reason our local MP Andrew Dismore criticised the opening of this school building, for reasons I can not be sure of. However, unlike Mr Dismore, I welcome the opening of the new London Academy in Edgware. I was therefore disappointed to see the front page article of the Edgware Times on 21 September in which Mr Dismore was causing a fuss over the opening of the schools new building.

Rather than worrying over who is opening the new building, maybe Mr Dismore can join me as the local councillor for Edgware in congratulating the hard work of the Principle, Mr Hearn and his staff, in trying to turn the school round, to improve the prospects for the school's pupils.

However, I am not that surprised of Mr Dismore's views, because when you think about it, the new academy and foundations schools, like that in Edgware are opposed by most Labour MP's; and Tony Blair only got through his policy thanks to the support of the Conservative Party. So let's hope when Labour throw out Tony Blair they don’t also throw out the extra freedom that schools will be getting, like that now enjoyed by the London Academy in Edgware.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Social Services

One area which I didn't know about when I became a Councillor was social services.
However, the issue of Councillors being 'corporate parents' for the children in looked after care is one of the most important issues but often quieter areas which I think councillors are involved in.

This evening as part of my responsiblity as a councillor on the Education and Scrutiny Committee, I visited one of the Council's 2 homes for young people. I am pleased to say that I found the house and children in good condition and was pleasantly surprised by the attitude of the young people living there.

Fostering is another related area where the Council is always looking for new parents, so if you are interested in being a foster parent you can contact the fostering team by:

phone - 020 8359 6274.
email -
post - The Fostering Service, 6th Floor,Barnet House,1255 High Road,Whetstone,London, N20 0E

Edgwarebury Park

There was recently a letter in the Edgware Times regarding Edgwarebury Park. As I have said before I believe we in Edgware are very lucky to have this jewel of a park and I want it to be as good as possible. Therefore I was upset that a resident felt there were some problems and so I investigated the queries which I have answered here.

Why was the old play unit replaced - The old wooden Kompan Toddler Mini Play Unit was replaced because it had come to the end of its useful working life. The wooden play unit was installed in 1993 and has an average lifespan of 15 year, it was therefore replace with a roundabout that is accessible for disabled children. The reason that it was not a like for like replacement is because a 'Nursery Rhymes' toddler unit was installed in 2005 for the same age range as the older wooden mini play unit.

Why was the playground closed - Although the work was being carried out the playground was not locked and users were not stopped from entering the playground, only the area of the playground where the new unit was being installed. However, one of the gates is faulty - which will shortly be replaced - and so may have given the impression that it was locked, for which I apologise. It is preferable to avoid carrying out work during the school holidays, but this is sometimes difficult to ensure due to contractors schedules and the need to carry out the work in fine weather so as to lay the safety surfacing.

Problems with the soft flooring - On the issue of the soft safety flooring, due to the drought, areas of tarmac and the wet pour which forms the safety surface within the playground have moved, dropped and cracked. To completely remedy the situation this would require removed all the toys and the playground surface being constructed. Repairs will soon be carried out to remedy the situation and to power wash the surface. The playground will also shortly be getting a new mono-hinge and anti-bully gates

Celebrating 350 years of the Jewish Community in England

I was privileged last week to attend the Council's ceremony to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Jewish community living in England and also to give the freedom of the borough to the Chief Rabbi. I am proud that Barnet has the largest Jewish Community and is a perfect example of how different race and faith groups can live together in close surroundings in a tolerant way. There is much written about multi-culturalism, but for Britain to remain cohesive, all groups should accept the British culture and ways of life. However, minority groups can also live the lifes they wish within this and be accepted but everyone needs to work together.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Science in Schools

As I mentioned in my previous post I will be chairing a working group of the Education Committee to see how we can improve science in Barnet's schools.

As the recent news coverage has shown, a lack of teenagers are taking science options at A-Level and then university. This is an important issue because without more science graduates our science industries will suffer and we will have a lack of science teachers in the future therefore making the isssue worse.

This issue was actually brought to my attention about six years ago when I was on the Executive of the University of Birmingham's Guild of Students. I was speaking to the then Vice-Chancellor who mentioned this issue to me. Since then I have considered it an important issue and I wanted to try and find some possible solution to it as a councillor.

Therefore I hope as a Council we can help to make a difference in Barnet and show that Councils can make real differences on issues like this.

In Barnet we have excellent schools and high achieving pupils, therefore if pupils here are not being taught science as well as it could be, and so that it is not enjoyed thus encouraging more students to study it further, what chance has Britain got. Therefore, we really need to sort this issue out in Barnet not just for the sake of Barnet but for the country as a whole.

End of Summer

With it being the August Bank Holiday, I hope I am not being too pesimistic by suggesting that the summer might be over. Hopefully, the weather will stay warm, but from this week the Councill gets busy again.

People often complain that MP's have too long a holiday. As a Councillor I can say I definitely needed the break after a hard working year , but maybe MPs holidays could be shorter and they could come back to work in September like the rest of us.

Tomorrow afternoon I and my colleagues have our monthly surgery at Edgware Library between 5:30 and 6:30. Come along if u want.

Wednesday is the Planning and Environment meeting,the seems to be lots of the agenda so it could be a long evening. The Sternberg TREES are back on the agenda which should be another interesting discussion, whats more important a new centre or ten trees? We will have to decide.
If you are interested you can see the agenda here Planning Meeting

Then on Thursday I am chairing a working group as part of the Education Scrutiny Committee, where we will be looking at how we can improve the level of science in Barnet's schools.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


A few people have contacted me regarding the issue of Parking Tickets. Therefore please some information regarding the tickets.

Barnet Council lost an appeal against Mr Moses over whether parking tickets were invalid.
However, this only refers to parking tickets which were issued prior to the original court decision in May 2006. Since that decision Barnet Council has been issuing Penalty Charge Notices with both the date and time of 'issue' and the 'offence' and has therefore since May been complying with the Court's decision.While you are able to appeal against parking tickets issued prior to May 2006,the court decision did not make a judgement on whether or not you can use thisjudgement as an argument if you did not use this judgement as a reason at anearlier stage of your appeal.The information I have provided here is not a legal opinion.

This is just information I hope people will find useful. Please let me know if there is anything I can help you with on this issue or any other.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

In Support of Israel

As a Jewish Councillor and strong supporter of Israel I think it is vital that I show my support for Israel at this difficult time. Whilst it is important to remember that many innocent civilians are dying on both sides in this war, it is important to that Israel is defending itself against Hezbolah and Hamas enemies, supported by Iran and Syria that are intent on wiping Israel off the map.

Israel therefore as any other State has a right to defend itself when its cities are attacked killing civilians and soldiers are killed and kidnapped from inside their own country. Therefore Israel has to strike back against its enemy which cowardly attacks from inside civilian areas. This is because they are not concerned about the amount of casualties on either side as long as they can destroy Israel

At this time it is important to remember the words of former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir when she said
"We will have peace with the Arabs when they learn to love their children more than they hate us."

I was also pleased to be at the British Rally in support of Israel last week when we said Yes to Peace and No to Terror. The Chief Rabbi summed up the messsage of the day when he said

What Hizbullah and Hamas have said in word and deed is:
We will kill you if you stay
And we will kill you if you leave.
We will kill you if you retaliate
And we will kill you if you don’t retaliate.
What can Israel do but to seek to end the terror
That threatens and is meant to threaten its very existence?
When alone among the 192 nations that make up the United Nations, after 58
years it still finds its very right to exist denied?

Alan Senitt z"l

As many of you know may know, a friend of mine, Alan Senitt recently died in tragic circumstance. He was a friend and colleague and will be deeply missed by many who knew him as the website testifies to.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Weekly Update

Let me tell you what I have been up to over the last week an a half.

Last Tuesday I attended a meeting organised by the Leader of the Council and representatives from the Edgware Jewish Primary School on Hale Lane. I thought this was a very useful meeting and will allow the school to find a way to revise their plans that will see the development of the school to go ahead.

On Wednesday I attended the Planning and Environment Committee where we talked about trees. It is amazing how this can cause such a long discussion. Thursday was the Crime and Housing Scrutiny Committee.

Thursday - I will be attending the Crime and Housing Scrutiny Committee.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

What am I up to this week w/b 2 July 2006

In order to encourage myself to post regularly I am going to start letting you know my timetable for this week and also to review the previous week.

Tuesday - Following the failure of the Hendon Planning Committee to approve the planning application for Edgware Jewish Primary School on Hale Lane. I will be attending a meeting with the Leader of the Council, representatives from EJPS, other councillors and planning officers, to see if a way forward can be found to allow this school to start a development to allow this new school to have the buildings they require when they open as scheduled in September.

Wednesday - I will be attending the Planning and Environment Committee the main business of which is to decide on the planning application at the Sternberg Centre in Finchley.

Thursday - I will be attending the Crime and Housing Scrutiny Committee.

Sadly with England being knocked out the world cup yesterday there will not be the excitement of hoping England win the World Cup.

What happend at my first Full Council

I attended my first Full Council on Tuesday 27 June. It was very exciting and nice to see that the Conservatives won all the votes. I feel that Labour and the Lib Dems did not realise that they had not won the recent election and if they want to become more popular with the residents of Barnet have to learn some important lessons, such that people want high quality vaule for money services, but where possible also lower levels of Council Tax. I hope as a Councillor I will help to be able to achieve this.

At the meeting I made my maiden speech which I think went well and was supported by my fellow Conservative councillors. I spoke about why Barnet Council should not attempt to be awarded FairTrade Status until we can afford the extra cost or is funded by central government. The text of the speech can be seen below.

In addition I asked 2 questions.

1- In which I found out that none of Barnet's secondary schools are in special measures. This is excellent news and down to the staff of Barnet Council and the indiviudal schools in helping to improve the education facilities that the children of this borough receive.

2- I found out that Barnet has managed to reduced the number of road casualties in Barnet by 46% since the introduction of the policy to remove road humps. This should encourage critics such as the Mayor of London and others to apologise for the harsh critism of this policy and maybe they will even feel free to learn from this policy.


Below is the text of my speech speaking out against Labour's motion on FairTrade.

Speech Against Fair Trade Motion - 27 June 2006
Thank you Madam Mayor.
Before turning to the subject of this motion, as this is my maiden speech I would firstly like to pay tribute to my predecessor Councillor for Edgware Ward.
Before he stood down at the elections in May, Malcolm Lester had served Edgware Ward for 24 years and was seen as a distinguished councillor that always served his constituents well.
And I understand most importantly stood up when their democratic rights were being questioned.
I wish him well and many happy years in a hard-earned retirement
Madam Mayor, you might like to know that I was not even 2 years old, when Malcolm Lester was first elected a Councillor.
Although I’m a little older now…. I hope as a Councillor for Edgware I will continue to serve the area well together with my colleagues Councillor Hart and Councillor Scannell.
As a Councillor I will hope to ensure that this Council spends the money it raises from our residents in a wise and value for money way, which is why I am speaking against this motion and supporting the ammendment in the name of Cllr Freer.
Madam Mayor I would love to be able to support this motion, indeed the principles behind this motion are very valid.
As someone who has worked on a farm often in excessive heat, I know how difficult a job it is and why it should be valued.

In order to allow the development of some of the less developed countries in the world, producers should be able to get a fair price for what they sell.
I would go further though, arguing for proper free trade around the world and the reduction in trade barriers such as the European CAP that will allow these farmers and other producers to get a fair price for what they sell.
Therefore, it is important for all of us as individuals to support the Fairtrade campaign.
However, I can't support this motion proposed by the opposition and would urge Members to support the amendment in the name of Cllr Freer.
I do not see how as a responsible Council that is committed to providing high-quality front-line services for our residents we can support this motion that would require recruiting an extra member of staff.
And result in tens of thousands of extra pounds in costs for the Council year on year.
Let me ask those members who were thinking of supporting this motion.
While being a responsible Council and having a balanced budget, where would they sooner the money go?
Would they want a fair-trade employee to replace a librarian?
Would they want a fair-trade employee to replace street cleaners?
Or would they want a fair-trade employee to replace a teacher?
I know where I want our resident's hard-earned Council tax to go.
Turning to the Liberal Democrat ammendment which I also urge members to oppose. There is no point in the Cabinet waisting resources researching the value of achieving Fairtrade status, until we know the Council can afford it.
This will not be possible until the Labour Government gives Barnet a fair deal.
This Council has scarce resources and whilst that continues to be the case, we should be continuing to prioritise front-line services.
As long as Barnet continues to be under funded by the Labour Government, I am afraid this will continue to be the case.
I therefore urge members to support the amendment proposed by Cllr Freer, so that this Council will only campaign to be awarded Fairtrade status when the necessary resources are made available from central Government.


I apologise for not writing an article and keeping you updated for the past month, but I have been busy getting use to life as a councillor.

So what does life as a councillor involve. There are really 2 main jobs. Firstly it is to take part in the committee meetings for which I am a member. The list of Committees which I am on are:

Full Council - This is the main decision body (basically the Parliament) of Barnet Council, which meets approximately every 6 weeks. (Please see a later message about my first Full Council on 27 June.

Planning and Environment Committee
Hendon Planning Sub-Committee
Hendon Environment Sub-Committee

These 3 committees make decisions on planning development applications, decisions for road works and how road facilities can be improved, refuse collection, parks and many other issues.

Education Scrutiny Committee - This committee reviews the standard of school and childcare facilities in Barnet. One of the issues I have particularly requested to discuss over the coming year is to see how our high quality schools can encourage the children in Barnet to take up science as they continue their education. If our industries in this country are going to develop and science is able to be continually taught well in schools we need good science graduates and so it is important to ensure that a high proportion of Barnet's pupils are not now put off Science at school as seems to be incresingly happening around the country.

Crime and Housing Scrutiny Committee- This committee reviews crime and housing issues of which the first meeting will be this week.

All meeting agendas and minutes can be found on the Barnet website at

The second role of my work as a Councillor is to try and resolve issues that the residents of Edgware raise with me. I have had quite a few issues raised with me so far, which is helping me further to understand the issues in Edgware. I hope I have helped to solve some problems and if not at least explained why some things occur and can not be changed.

If there is anything I can help with or if you would like me to raise an issue at one of the committees please feel free to contact me at or call me on 020 8958 0640.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Edgware Councillors Surgery

Tomorrow will be my first surgery together with my Edgware Ward colleagues Cllr Helena Hart and Cllr Joan Scannell

Our Surgeries are held on the last Tuesday of every month at Edgware Library on Hale Lane from 5.30pm - 6.30pm (except Bank and Religious Holidays). No appointment necessary

Monday, May 29, 2006

Pest Control Service

As I have had a number of residents contact me about pest control in Barnet I thought it would be useful to provide some information.

As many of you may know the Council decided to withdraw the pest control service two years ago. However, due the number of concerns raised by residents, which Barnet Council is always pleased to listen to, a service was reintroduced in April 2006.

If you know of any rat populations on either private or public propety, please contact Barnet Council's Pest Control administrative officer on 020 8359 7997. Alternatively you could contact me or your other local councillors.

I hope this information is of use.

Please be aware that this service has been re-introduced with a charge in order to cover the costs.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

For Information - Edgware Flood Alleviation Scheme

As many of you know, Thames Water have been carrying out the Edgware Flood Alleviation Scheme along Edgwarebury Lane. Edgwarebury Lane has now reopened but Thames Water is now starting the next stage of the works.

This will involve work to increase the size of sewers on the lower half of Mowbray Road, from the junction with Edgwarebury Lane to Number 14 Mowbray Road.

The work will be carried out by Thames Waters betweem 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays. This will involve the the juction between Mowbray Road and Edgwarebury Lane being closed for the duration of the work.

For any questions please call Thames Water on 0845 9200 800 quoting the reference BB707489 or let me know if you have any difficulties.

What do you want from Barnet Council

As a Councillor I am here to represent the people of Barnet and Edgware in particular. However, I can not know everything that is going on, especially as I am not a full time politician. Therefore please let me know what you want here in Edgware. You can either do this be leaving a comment on the website or emailing me at

Contact Richard Weider

You can contact Cllr Richard Weider on:

Tel - 020 8958 0640
email -

2006 Edgware Local Election Results

Please find the results of the Edgware Ward 2006 Local Election Results

Candidate Party Result
Weider, Richard Frederick Conservative Elected: 2199
Hart, Helena Diane Conservative Elected: 2086
Scannell, Joan Conservative Elected: 2018

Abeles, Elias Liberal Democrat 901
Brodkin, Alexander Labour 1068
Goodman, Michael Ronald Liberal Democrat 682
Green, Debra Green 276
Johnston, John Joseph Labour 942
Levy, Mira Liberal Democrat 672
Lithgow, Jane Green 156
Senitt, Alan Charles Labour 854

Ward turnout: 39.16%

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Hi I am Richard Weider and let me welcome you to my webpages blog.

I am one of the Conservative Councillors together with Helena Hart and Joan Scannell for Edgware Ward in the London Borough of Barnet.

During my recent camapign to become elected to a Councillor for Edgware Ward, I said I wanted to represent all the residents of Edgware, by regularly listening and communicating with you.

I therefore hope that these pages will be an easy way for the residents of Edgware to get in touch with me, to provide me with feedback and their views on how I can represent them.

In the 21st century, politicians should no longer only limit communications to the traditional paper form. I hope you will all find this a useful tool to communicate with me over the months and years to come.

If anyone is reading this, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at

Richard Weider